My favorite times on the beach are first thing in the morning – when the water is like glass so soft and peaceful and the sun is rising – and then again in the late afternoon as the day winds down and the sun begins to fade. Last night we enjoyed a picnic dinner on the beach. It was so beautiful. My mother in law commented that watching the kids play in the sand at sunset was like looking at a painting. She was right. It was so beautiful. I wish I had captured photographs of this moment … but every one I took just didn’t do it justice. I feel like we are creating treasures of simple memories here at the beach together. I just need to store them in my heart – they are so precious and beautiful and fleeting.
I am trying to savor every moment. I truly do wish right now that time would just stand still. It’s like everything is right where I want it to be and I know I am meant to be HERE, doing what I am doing. When I look at my children so happy and free it’s as though my heart tries to creep up my throat and burst out – I am just so thankful for them and for the gift of being their mother.
Running has been a regular part of my summer vacation routine. There is no place I would rather run than by the ocean’s edge. Virginia Beach has a really nice boardwalk along the ocean and I love to make it a part of my daily running route. There are plenty of clean bathrooms and lots of water fountains. The sound of the waves crashing is the perfect soundtrack. There is loads of people watching – never a dull moment around here. And the oceanfront neighborhood streets are charming. I love to run by the homes and imagine myself living in one of the old sea front cottages … a girl can dream, right?
The only drawback to the beach running that I’ve found is one simple fact – ZERO SHADE. I try to get out early but this is my husband’s vacation too and I am trying to let him sleep a little later than he usually does during the week. Our kids are early risers so if I go at 5:30 like I do at home, that means he is dealing with everyone while I am gone. For my running the later start has meant MUCH higher temperatures and blazing sunshine to deal with. There is a park here that I love, but unfortunately in the summer it is infested with horrible deer flies that bite like crazy and I just haven’t wanted to risk that yet this trip.
So I deal with the heat as best I can. I wear sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses. I have been regularly liberating myself from shirts and am going for my runs in a bra like it’s no big deal these days (hooray!). I bring a water bottle and fill it with lots of ice and stop at the many water fountains to refill frequently. I run with my phone in case I get into trouble (thankfully this has not happened!). Sunday’s 16 mile long run was HARD. I was okay with slowing my pace and walking some of that last mile – it was the right thing to do. I didn’t want it to happen again though, so I have been trying to run a more conservative pace these last two days. My body needs time to acclimate to the heat and it is going to get it these next two weeks we are here!
This morning I had 10 miles to run and I didn’t get out there until almost 8:00am. I will tell you this – at 8:00AM on a July morning at the beach it is HOT. I ran a steady pace the whole time but I was cooking as I ran along that boardwalk.
|King Neptune on my VA Beach Boardwalk route|
I stopped to fill my water bottle at Mile 7 and with just three miles left to go, I ducked into a shady spot by a hotel to pour some water down my back and give myself a pep talk. I was holding an 8:28 average pace for the run, which is in the range of what I want my easy day runs to be. But this heat has played tricks on me, leaving me questioning my goals and my dreams and wondering if I am ready to do what I am setting out to do. In my heart, I KNOW I am built for this and that I can get that 3:20 marathon come fall. It is NOT supposed to be EASY. But it will be so worth it.
I finished out my run and with every step I took I visualized myself running my goal races this season – Hood to Coast, the DC Ragnar Relay, and of course Marine Corps Marathon and CRUSHING THEM. I imagined the cooler temperatures and longed for them. I started to feel excited and hopeful, knowing that if I could get through this I could get through anything. I was hot, sweaty and happy when I finished that run.
When I got back to the house, instead of going inside I walked straight down to the ocean and took off my shoes and socks, my hat and sunglasses, my watch and put my water bottle in the sand and I ran right into that big beautiful ocean.
How can I possibly describe the BLISS that I experienced in doing that!? I flopped on my back and floated – the cold water felt utterly AMAZING. I will be making this a regular part of my routine from here on out. Why in the WORLD hadn’t I done this sooner?! Paradise.
These beach runs are reminding me to savor the moment and run for the pure and simple fact that it brings me JOY. I feel so lucky and blessed to be able to run at all, especially in a place like this. My goals are important to me and I am striving for them and working towards them, and I believe with all of my heart that I WILL get there. I just don’t want to have tunnel vision though, because there is so much to soak up and LOVE in THIS MOMENT. Even in the scorching heat.
I don’t want to miss a thing.